Sugar Cookies

I can’t help it, I love to bake. Call me domesticated, call me girly, but it makes me so happy to bake, especially for other people.

This Easter, I decided to bake every treat that I put in the Easter baskets for my family. I’m making several different things (mostly chocolate candies), but one thing that seems to go over well, no matter the holiday, are my sugar cookies.

I’m not sure where I found this recipe, but it’s very simple, and I’ve been able to perfect it by playing with both the amount of sugar and the temperature of my oven so that the cookies remain soft for a few days. These cookies are very Paula Deen-ish, because they call for a a full cup of butter vs. other recipes that typically just call for 1/2 cup of butter. I think that’s what makes all the difference.

These are really simple to make, and I encourage you to try them…good luck keeping any nearby, because they disappear quickly! I’m hiding them from my husband so they’ll actually stay around until Sunday…

Simple Sugar Cookies

Dry Ingredients:

2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Wet Ingredients:

1 c. butter (I use 2 margarine sticks)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and baking powder.) Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. It’s easiest to use a mixer for this, and ensure that the mixture is creamed well. Add egg and vanilla. Slowly blend in the dry ingredients. Roll dough into small balls, and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Pat the top of the cookies down slightly with the bottom of a teaspoon, and then add sprinkles or sugar crystals if desired.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated oven (I bake for 9 minutes, 25 seconds), or until the cookies are a golden color. Let the cookies stand on cookie sheets for 2-3 minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Leave me a comment if you have any questions…I’d love to know if you try them!

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Musical Passion.

The following is a short story I wrote in order to enter a contest for concert tickets. Thought I’d share it here as well.

 Music is my passion; it’s what keeps me going and fuels me from one day to the next. I am a therapist, and work full-time with children and adults. I hear so many sad stories, so many depressing things, but when I find myself becoming too overwhelmed or stressed because I’m taking in all the negative energy for my clients, I turn to music. I have playlists that make me happy and bring my energy back for the rest of the day, those that help me release my stress and anxiety, and some that are random and silly. It all comes down to the fact that the music keeps me sane and provides the soundtrack to my life, no matter what type of day I’m having.

 I grew up in a household where my parents encouraged me to listen to and play music. When my Dad worked on the railroad during the night shift, my Mom, sister, and myself would have a Motown night in our dining room. We’d turn off the lights, turn the music up, and dance and sing throughout our house. My Dad often had music blaring in his car, and would drum on his steering wheel when a song came on with a good beat. He’d roll the windows down, and we’d both sing as loud as we wanted to. My older sister always had a different band playing in her CD player, and I had the opportunity to find different types of music to love because of her. All of this helped me throughout my life, and continues to fuel my passion today.

 In recent years, I have found that concerts help me the most. The energy of a live show is amazing, and only adds fuel to the fire of my musical passion. I get high from the crowd, the band, the feeling in the air, and singing along whether or not I know the words. I finally get to let loose and dance, forgetting my surroundings. For that short period time, I don’t let myself care about what anyone else thinks.

 I often encourage my clients to use music as their therapy, just as I do. This is what gets me going and continues to inspire me each day.

30-before-30

I’ve wanted to start a blog-a real blog, where I write publicly and not just tweet, write articles, or short stories, for the past few years. Part of my hesitation stems from thinking “but will anyone read it? Are my thoughts really that interesting? What if I don’t have enough pictures?” In other words, I was setting myself up for failure before I even began. Then, I came across the 30-before-30 challenge.

I’m a list-maker and a goal-setter. Always have been, always will be. When I saw a few people on my RSS feed (namely Beantown Baker) begin their 30-before-30 lists last year, I knew it was something I wanted to do.

A 30-before-30 list is simple: write down 30 things you want to do, accomplish, or see before you turn 30. Right before I turned 29, I made my list. As of September 3rd, I began my adventure.

My list is as follows:

1. See 30 bands.

2. Send 30 letters/cards.

3. Read 30 books.

4. See at least 30 WV counties.

5. Try at least 12 new restaurants.

6. Make 10 new desserts.

7. Make 12 new foods.

8. Start (& actually write in) a journal.

9. Create a family recipe book.

10. Do something special for our 10th anniversary. (November 10th, 2011)

11. Start a blog and write at least 12 posts.

12. Make a pie with meringue.

13. Make a fruit pie with homemade crust.

14. Learn how to can.

15. Lose 30 pounds.

16. Learn to drive a standard.

17. Create a full family tree-at least to my great-grandparents.

18. Complete an “every year until 30” photo collage.

19. Be on a podcast.

20. Be a featured blogger.

21. See at least one new state.

22. Listen to all the Dave Matthews Band studio CDs-songs in order.

23. Take the LPC exam.

24. Plant a garden.

25. Bike 30 miles on the Appalachian trail.

26. Donate blood.

27. Create an exercise program to strengthen my heart.

28. Sing in public again.

29. Send a secret to Post Secret.

30. See the Dave Matthews Band at least 5 times.

*Bonus-See DMB at the Gorge, the day before my 30th birthday, with my husband beside me. I can’t think of a better way to end my 29th year.*

I have a lot of these started, and hope to update as I go along. Some of these might seem silly or simple, but these are things I’ve been wanting to do and feel will make my 29th year a meaningful one.

I can’t help but love stuff like this…I’m so corny.

Rockin’ Out

I’m the girl you pass on the interstate, who is dancing in her car while driving, tapping the steering wheel, and singing at the top of her lungs. I dance and sing around my house as well, because I love music. Is this a bad thing? No…at least not while I’m in my own space. My problem is that sometimes, I forget that I’m out in public.

My husband and I joined our local gym about a month ago. While I don’t do anything too crazy, I do find that I love working out on the elliptical. My motivation to go faster and push myself harder isn’t necessarily based on who is around me, but by what music I have playing on my iPod. The faster the song, the faster I go.

Here’s the thing…sometimes, I really get into the music. I always walk or run to the beat, but then my hands begin to tap the top of the machine. I bop my head, and then start lip synching the words. I fear that my next step will be singing along out loud while I’m working out, but this has yet to happen.

I’m not ashamed. I love music, I love being able to enjoy my workout based upon the music I listen to. I only hope no one has ever taken a video of me while working out though…then I might change my mind.

Lola & the Vet

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Poor Lola.

I swear, she knew she was going to the vet the day before we even went. You see, about a month ago, she fell on our porch and her back leg hit one of the steps. It has just rained and it was slippery, and she tried to run up the steps a little too quickly. Her leg wouldn’t stop shaking and she couldn’t jump up on the couch or her favorite chair like she usually could, so we knew something was wrong. We took her to the vet the day after it happened, and we were told her ACL was torn.

Ouch.

We were given instructions not to let her run, jump, or walk up and down stairs too much during the next two weeks, as she might damage it further. I don’t know how we did it, but we kept her calm and she rested as much as possible. I’m sure the pain pills helped…

Anyway, Lola was excited to be in the car, going from window to window to look outside. As we stopped in front of the office, however, she froze. I got the look…the one that basically made me feel like a terrible pet owner, the look that said “you betrayed me!”

We went inside, and Lola paced back and forth. She sniffed other dogs, played with one of the cats that roams freely around the waiting room, and then she laid down, right in the middle of the floor. I suppose she made herself at home, even though she was ready and waiting at any point for me to move toward the door so we could go home.

When we finally got to see the vet (we waited for 45 minutes…whew), she was completely calm. Lola let our vet feel her leg, twist it, and straighten it. Thank goodness it had healed, and she won’t need surgery. We still have to be careful about letting her run too hard or too fast, but she’s an 8-year-old lazy dog that is content to sit on the porch in the sun rather than chase squirrels. I’m just glad she’s ok.

No one tell her that we have to go back in a month to check her thyroid levels…deal?

Finding My Inspiration

I live with four cats, one dog, and a husband. My life is fairly peaceful, yet I find myself staying up later than anyone else, reflecting on my day and what to expect tomorrow. I have always been this way, even in high school, and I doubt I’ll ever change. My mind is constantly working, thinking often about what I’ve just done and what is next.

This, my friends, is why having a blog (and a new laptop) is dangerous.

Welcome to my world, another online identity, one where I can type more than 140 characters. A place where I can post how I feel without wondering what someone I met ten years ago is thinking and how I need to properly phrase myself. My goal is to be completely honest, open, and create another version of an online journal in order to make sure that I remember the good and the bad experiences I have on a day-to-day, or perhaps week-to-week basis. I am determined to get all of the thoughts out of my head and onto a screen.

Right before I turned 29, I made my 30 before 30 list. Thirty things I want to accomplish before I turn thirty, on September 3rd, 2012. Creating a blog has been something I’ve talked about for the past 2-3 years, but now that I made it a goal for myself (and put it down on paper), I want nothing more than to fulfill it.

It’s funny, I can’t think of a way to end this post…endings have always been difficult for me. I hope to keep this going, and hope that I learn a lot along the way. If nothing else, I want to make sure that I at least document a large part of my 29th year, for better or for worse.

Ready or not, here I come.